When a juicy story hits social media, the instant reaction is to run with it and all the implications. That’s the nature of our on-demand, always-on, real-time media world. The only thing faster than hot takes from the first hint of a story are the assumptions made by both sides regardless of the details.
Such is the case with Jussie Smollett, the actor who was allegedly attacked by MAGA-loving bigots. Smollett, a gay man of color, was allegedly targeted on the streets of Chicago, but now reports are coming in that it may have been an elaborate hoax designed to help him save his job on the cast of Empire.
— Emily Zanotti (@emzanotti) February 15, 2019
But so far, police have only confirmed that Smollett is still being treated as a victim. Yes, there were two persons of interest questioned by police. Yes, Smollett skipped a voluntary interview with police this morning. Yes, the story was strange from the start and this new narrative seems to match much better regardless of which side of the political or cultural aisle you’re on.
And yet, nothing has been confirmed.
It’s incumbent on us, whether journalists or simply social media users, to wait for the facts before jumping to conclusions. It works in both directions.
Regarding Jussie Smollett, let's PLEASE wait for a report from authorities. Just as the left jumped too quickly on the Covington Catholic School story, so too am I seeing conservatives scream #HOAX without confirmation from law enforcement. If/when he's charged, then we #Pounce.
— JD Rucker (@JDRucker) February 15, 2019
Was it all a hoax? Possibly. Some who are looking at he evidence today and the report released by local Chicago news may come to the conclusion that a hoax was likely. But let’s not assume until the truth is revealed by officials.